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Alexander Nove Prize

(3 May 2016)

The Alexander Nove Prize was established by BASEES in March 1995 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late Alec Nove.

The Alexander Nove Prize 2014 (Awarded 2016)

Madeleine Reeves, Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2014)

Drawing on extensive and carefully designed ethnographic fieldwork in the Ferghana Valley region, where the state borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikizstan and Uzbekistan intersect, Madeleine Reeves develops new ways of conceiving the state as a complex of relationships, and of state borders as socially constructed and in a constant state of flux.

She explores the processes and relationships through which state borders are made, remade, interpreted and contested by a range of actors including politicians, state officials, border guards, farmers and people whose lives involve the crossing of the borders. In territory where international borders are not always clearly demarcated or consistently enforced, Reeves traces the ways in which states’ attempts to establish their rule create new sources of conflict or insecurity for people pursuing their livelihoods in the area on the basis of older and less formal understandings of norms of access.

As a result the book makes a major new and original contribution to scholarly work on Central Asia and more generally on the anthropology of border regions and the state as a social process. Moreover, the work as a whole is presented in a lively and accessible style.

The individual lives whose tribulations and small triumphs Reeves so vividly documents, and the relationships she establishes with her subjects, are as revealing as they are engaging. Border Work is a well-deserved winner of this year’s Alexander Nove Prize.